Wetting the bed overnight when you are still young is quite common, but for Christine Clayfield, it was something that made her life a nightmare from an early age and plagued her well into her adult life. The causes of her bedwetting were the atmosphere of constant fear, insecurity, low self-esteem, lack of support and loneliness.
Extract from No Fourth River: “In retrospect, it was a reaction to the constant fear but at the time, it felt like daily humiliation and evidence that my father was right about my general worthlessness.”
Extract from No Fourth River: “I was terrified of my father but more terrified of being sent away to some strange place, mainly because of my bedwetting and my ugly scar.”
Bedwetting at boarding school
Because of her bedwetting problem and her scar, Christine was continuously laughed at in boarding school. She was different and she was scared which made her a prime target for bullies. The authoritarian nuns who ran the school did not like that she made extra work for them, they made sure that she was punished and humiliated every time she wet her bed, which was on a daily basis.
The punishments she endured at boarding school include:
– A daily walk of shame carrying her wet bedsheets through all the dormitories in front of the other girls while a nun would repeat on the loudspeaker: “Attention. The girl in bed 49 has wet her bed. Make way for the bed-wetter.”
– Being stripped naked and having four buckets of ice-cold water poured over her head.
– Being forced to stand with her wet bed sheets in the middle of the playground whilst children laughed at her.
Extracts from No Fourth River:
The walk of shame punishment
Christine talks about her boarding school days: “One defining moment of my life was the walk of shame I had to do every morning, carrying my wet bed sheet through all the dormitories, while one of the nuns would repeat on the loudspeaker: “Attention. The girl in bed 49, has wet her bed. Make way for the bed-wetter.” A scene quite like Cersei’s walk of shame on the TV show Games of Thrones.
“In later life, I realised that it was a very influential and defining moment for me because I told myself I would never be laughed at, spit at and bullied again like I did during that walk.”
Ice water punishment
“On one occasion, the nuns dragged me into a bathtub, forced me to undress completely, while they proceeded to pour four buckets of ice-cold water over my head. They made me sit in the tub for twenty minutes, totally naked and shivering of cold. During those twenty minutes, I had to repeat: “I am sorry; I won’t wet my bed again. I am sorry, I won’t wet my bed again, I am sorry, I won’t wet my bed again.”
Holding wet bed sheet over her head punishment.
“You dirty child, I’ve had enough of you. You have to stop wetting the bed!” I started to cry, as I realized it wasn’t the end of my punishments for bedwetting at all.“
“You will stand here for 30 minutes, with the soaking linen on your head so that everybody can see you,” she commanded.
Immediately all the children gathered around me and began laughing and spitting at me, calling me dirty names. The nuns encouraged the children to do so.”
Bedwetting at home
The punishments Christine suffered at school were not the only ones she suffered because of bedwetting. At home, her father was quite cruel too.
Christine’s father’s attempt at stopping her wetting the bed included:
– No drinking after 6 pm.
– Being woken up every 2hrs to use the toilet.
– Being forced to eat 25 extra salty TUC biscuits at 6 pm and not be allowed to drink until the next morning.
– Being woken up every 2 hours during the night for a period of five months.
– Trying four different medications, all of them had horrible side effects.
– A chart-based reward system for every dry night but nothing ever appeared on the chart.
– Visiting several psychiatrists without any success.
– Using several different machines that sound an alarm each time she wet the bed.
– Several doctors have done various tests, x-rays, scans and ultrasounds to rule out any physical causes and they have concluded it is all in Christine’s mind.
– Electroshock therapy at the age of 14yrs old. Christine will never forget this for the rest of her life and this therapy had a major influence on her rebellious teenage years.
When the bedwetting stopped
None of the above stopped Christine’s bedwetting. Her bedwetting caused her further humiliation and shame as she grew up and started relationships with men.
Extract from No Fourth River: “I told Harry about my bedwetting before we moved in together. He seemed fine with it and didn’t act like it was a problem. Then came the first day that he actually woke up in wet sheets at 6 a.m.
He snorted. “Looks like living together is going to be a lot of fun! What the hell! Is this how it’s going to be every day? It had better not be! It stinks and it’s disgusting! Take these sheets off the bed immediately, put clean sheets on and you go downstairs so I can sleep a few more hours in a dry bed.”
Christine stopped wetting the bed in later life. She calls it an “unexpected miracle”.